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Braintree schools win funds for after-school fitness program

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  December 3, 2010 03:16 PM

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With the help of a grant received last week, Braintree seventh graders can begin 2011 with a healthier outlook on life.

The CHNA (Community Health Network Alliance) grant, sponsored by the Blue Hills Community Health Alliance, awarded $3,258.50 to Braintree Public Schools for the “Let’s Put Fit in Fitness” program. The money will purchase age-appropriate fitness equipment and healthy snacks for the 10-week after-school program, which hopes to encourage kids to have a healthy attitudes about food and exercise.

“Not only will it teach them about exercise, but nutrition. Things they can take away and do with their families,” said Melonie Bennett, the director of health and fitness at Braintree Public Schools, who applied for the grant.

“At the same time, they will be having fun, enjoying the activities. Socialization is key, [it shows them that exercise is] something they will enjoy doing, not something they have to do,” she said.

Slated to start in January, the program will be offered to seventh grade students in both the East and South Middle Schools, and will run from 2:30 to 3:30, two days a week.

Bennett has high hopes for the program, which will involve discussions on the such topics as stretching, how to use training equipment, and the value of healthy eating.

With help from the program, both middle school gyms will be equipped with stability balls, resistance bands, yoga mats, and flat benches.

“I think we’ll get a good set out of people who want to participate in the program," Bennett said. "Right now it’s fairly open, it will be our first year running it and will give us a better idea of how many people we can accommodate, but we have the entire gymnasium.”

Bennett first heard about the program from colleagues, and decided to apply when she received an e-mail about it, she said.

“I thought it was a great way to get funds so that we can promote health and fitness in our schools,” she said.

At a recent School Committee meeting, Braintree Superintendent Peter Kurzberg commended Bennett for taking the initiative to apply for the grant. But Bennett says it was a no-brainer, as childhood obesity continues to be a national problem.

The other great aspect of the program, Bennett said, is the cooperation of other departments in the schools.

“I think what’s nice about the program, is we will have someone from food services will be coming in and discuss the benefits of nutrition, and the nurses will come in discussing the body itself. What’s great about this is the collaboration that will take place,” she said.

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